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New Vote Centers Open This Weekend, But Most Angelenos Have No Idea

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An election worker checks in a voter at the L.A. County mock election at Salazar Park, September 28, 2019. (Al Kamalizad for LAist)
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Election “Day” is so 2016. Californians have been voting by mail since the beginning of this month, and in L.A. and Orange Counties, voting in-person starts Saturday morning, when the first round of centralized “vote centers” will open.

Let’s recap the changes for WHERE to vote:

  • Most neighborhood polling places are going away, so your old voting spot may no longer be there. Instead, you’ll probably have to travel a bit farther to a new vote center.

The first group of these centers is open for 11 days beginning this weekend. The rest open on Feb. 29th, through election day.

  • You can go to any location in the county where you’re registered -- and you don’t need to bring a mail-in ballot to surrender if you decide to vote in-person.

HOW to vote is also different in 2020:

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  • In L.A. County, most in-person voters will use a new ballot marking machine that prints a paper ballot. If you’d rather vote on paper at your kitchen table, you have until Tuesday, Feb. 25 to request a vote-by-mail ballot.

  • At Orange County vote centers, voters will have the choice of hand-marking a paper ballot or using a ballot marking machine.

WILL THESE CHANGES LEAVE SOME VOTERS BEHIND?

New research is painting a troubling picture about whether Angelenos know about the new vote centers, spelled out in a 2016 law called the Voter’s Choice Act.

On Thursday, the USC Price-Schwarzenegger Institute published results from its California Issues Poll showing just over 37% of likely voters in the 15 counties implementing Voter’s Choice Act changes in 2020 were aware that where and how to cast ballots was changing.

In Los Angeles, 62.2% either didn’t know about the changes or couldn’t answer the question. In contrast, over half of respondents (51%) in Orange County knew about the changes.

GO DEEPER: